Themba Godi, chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) and representatives from the office of the Auditor General (AG) has praised the Department of Defence (DoD) for the progress they have made in addressing audit qualifications identified in the 2009/2010 Annual Report.
The Parliamentary accounts watchdog and AG also commended the DoD for improvements in managing and the development of financial and management systems. DA SCOPA member and shadow defence minister David Maynier said the new Secretary for Defence, Mpumi Mpofu, “inherited a monster of a department. She has nevertheless made commendable progress in reducing the number of audit qualifications. The challenge for this financial year is going to be to get a grip on irregular expenditure and the proper management of assets. The defence department, from an auditing point of view at least, seems to be moving in the right direction.”
Mpofu and senior managers appeared before SCOPA yesterday to account for the financial management of 2009/2010 year. “The team was accompanied by the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu to observe the proceedings and also understand concerns and recommendations of SCOPA,” her office said in a statement.
The meeting focussed on the progress being made to address irregular expenditure and assets management. Mpofu reported that progress has been made in capturing and accounting for all assets in the Department. “We are confident that in the coming months we would be able to account for all our assets which is the only qualification in this 2009/2010 annual report and in line with the requirements of the AG and the Treasury. It must be stated that we know where all our assets are, we have our systems. …what the AG is concerned about is that our systems do not comply with Treasury systems, together with the AG and Treasury we are now implementing new systems that comply with AG and treasury requirements” Mpofu said.
The Secretary for Defence added that what is important in the management of assets is stewardship and ownership at all levels. “We are extending our training to all levels of management; one of the problems was lack of training on systems, in this case we are taking all managers on board to ensure ownership and hands on stewardship,” she added.
Speaking at the conclusion of the meeting, Godi said the AG has conveyed his appreciation that the leadership of the department has worked with all stakeholders to reduce the qualifications from 16 to 1 over a short period of time. “The leadership of the Minister and the Secretary for Defence must be commended and encouraged, they set an example for other departments,” he said.
Commenting after the meeting, Sisulu said she is proud of the work done by in particular the Chief of the SANDF, the Military Command Council and the Secretary for Defence as well as her team. “I am proud of the progress made by the team, we want to reassure you Chairperson and members that we want a clean audit without any qualifications next year financial year, it is our commitment as a team, we are very capable and we have demonstrated. Our vision is of a Department without audit qualifications, and our operation clean audit will achieve that,” Sisulu said.
The minister also introduced a newly appointed Compliance Officer who will help her monitor compliance with all regulations. “We are convinced that the Compliance Officer, working with the Inspector General together with the leadership of the Department will ensure that we are the best managed Department very soon, we have begun the journey to greater heights”, she said.